Davide Bias is the son of Ettore, a screenwriter of B movies driven by excruciating dialogue. Davide himself is a copywriter who dreams of writing something of literary merit, something authentic. Anxiety and dissatisfaction are his daily companions. To keep them at bay, he takes drugs. Father and son have always been at loggerheads, have never really communicated. When Ettore dies in a car crash that might well have been suicide, David’s life takes an unexpected turn. After a row with his agency, he leaves Milan and his girlfriend, Silvia, and moves to live with his mother in Rome, in a house full of the presence of his father, his father’s frustrations and secret dreams. His greatest dream was Ludovica, a woman of luminous beauty, a publisher who had taken an interest in the autobiography Ettore was intending to write.
Davide, intrigued by the idea of finally getting to know his father and, above all, being able to go on seeing Ludovica, searches for the manuscript on his father’s computer, but in vain. So he writes the book himself, in his father’s stead, sharing his father’s frustration with his work, his impossible love for an inaccessible woman. Night after night, with no drugs, no peace, except when he is with her. Until she gives him a kiss, the chaste kiss of a married woman, amid the traffic of Rome.
By now Davide has come to know his father. He sees how his talent was frittered away making worthless films, until it was totally lost. And he recounts all this in his book, the authentic masterpiece he had in his heart to write. But the name on the cover is his father’s, and it his father who posthumously achieves the success he deserves, winning the most prestigious of literary prizes: the Premio Strega.
But Davide is not there with his mother to express his thanks. He has exhausted himself in the immense effort of re-inventing his father, in his impossible desire for the same woman. He spends his final year in a sanatorium, not going anywhere, determined not to get better. But someone comes to see him, in the garden. An awesomely beautiful woman, who kisses him again like a married woman. Only rather more so.